A group of scientists at the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) will now be able to recreate the first few moments after the birth of the Universe at the upgraded Large Hadron Collider (LHC) which was restarted earlier this year.
Lead ions are typically comprised of 126 neutrons and 82 protons in a cluster of tight atomic nuclei. Experts said that once these ions are smashed together, the lead ions turn into quark-gluon plasma, which is the Universe's most perfect super-fluid. Quark-gluon plasma was thought to be formed seconds after the Big Bang, making it the oldest form of matter in the Universe.
This is where the team of physicists comes into the picture. For the next three weeks, scientists will be cooking up quark-gluon plasma at the LHC.
In the morning of Nov. 17, accelerator specialists had placed the beams into collision for the first time. Eight days later, scientists reported that the LHC achieved stable beams and machine successfully smashed together incredibly miniscule particles of lead at super high energies.
The first lead-ion collision achieved energies that were twice as high as that of any previous experiment, reaching 1045 trillion electron-volts (TeV).
An immense amount of energy was released as the streams of positively-charged particles, which had been stripped of negatively-charged electrons, collided. A primordial mass of particles with a temperature of several trillion degrees--about a quarter million times higher than the temperature of the core of the sun-was also created because of the collision.
All the super-dense and extremely-heated cluster of particles that was created was the quark-gluon plasma. The early morning collisions were recorded by the LHC detectors, as well as by ALICE, a heavy-ion detector.
"There are many very dense and very hot questions to be addressed with the ion run for which our experiment was specifically designed and further improved during the shutdown," said Paolo Giubellino, spokesperson for the ALICE collaboration.
Giubellino said the team is eager to see how the increase in energy will affect the production of charmonium. They also want to probe heavy flavor and jet quenching with higher statistics.
"The whole collaboration is enthusiastically preparing for a new journey of discovery," he added.
Researchers believe that studying the quark-gluon plasma will give humans insight and better understanding about the basic physical laws of matter within the Universe. They will also be able to develop detailed models of the quark-gluon plasma and of the interaction that binds together quarks and nuclear matter.